Deep into the third act of a marathon career that began with sleek New Wave promise before drowning in stadium bombast, the rebooted Simple Minds largely manage to avoid sounding like bored midlife divorcees with expensive yachts to maintain on their 16th album.
Five years since their last studio release, the well-reviewed Top Ten hit Graffiti Soul, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill are dressing more towards their disco-rock side on Big Music, with co-writing input from Iain Cook of rising Glaswegian electro-pop stars Chvrches. As on Graffiti Soul, there are surges of bittersweet nostalgia for the pre-punk Glasgow of the band’s youth, especially Broken Glass Park, a Bowie-esque glam-lite affair originally intended for Kerr’s solo project Lostboy! AKA.
Reminiscence of a more poignant hue fuels the strongest track here, Honest Town, a tender memorial to the singer’s late mother set to a whooshing techno-trance backdrop. Midnight Walking splashes along on that classic Burchill guitar shimmer, while the spangled uplift of Human has an uncomfortably Coldplay-ish twinkle.
In their best moments, Simple Minds still sound like they have passionate messages to impart. But too much of Big Music seems to be reaching for a gravitas it can’t back up with emotional or musical substance./o:p